UCI confirms 19 WorldTour teams for rest of season after Katusha wins appeal
Governing body heads off threat of legal action but creates headache for race organisers
The UCI has confirmed there will be 19 WorldTour teams for the remainder of the 2013 season. The announcement follows Katusha's successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the decision of the UCI Licence Commisson not to award it a licence for this year. Originally, the UCI had suggested that in the event of Katusha winning its appeal, several teams would have to reapply for WorldTour status, and one would miss out.
That won't now happen, and today's announcement by the UCI, which it says was agreed upon by the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) whose members include representatives of teams, riders and the governing body itself, heads off any possibility of legal action on the part of whichever team would have been excluded.
The decision does however create a headache for race organisers, who are represented on the PCC through Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme and French ex-pro Charly Mottet, who now helps run the Canadian WorldTour one-day races in Québec and Montréal.
RCS Sport's Michele Acquarone has already lamented the problems which Katusha's readmission will cause his organisation, since the team will have to be accommodated within Tirreno-Adriatico and the Giro d'Italia.
The Russian outfit missed out on wild cards for both those races, but with its restored WorldTour status it has the right to an invitation, as well as an obligation to participate in them.
RCS has said it won't withdraw a wild card to any of the teams already granted them for those two races.
While there will be logistical issues for the three-week long Giro in particular - hotels, transfers and the like having long been booked and now needing to be tweaked - having an extra team in the race is not without precedent.
Indeed, it happened as recently as 2011 when organisers were allowed to increase the field to 207 riders instead of the usual maximum of 200 during a year in which the race celebrated Italy's 150th birthday.
Tour de France organisers ASO have not yet announced the wild cards for this years race, and it remains to be seen whether three non-WorldTour teams will be invited or whether it too will seek to expand the 100th edition to include 23 teams.